by Richard H. Fay
After my firstborn’s cheerful birth,
Arrogant pride made me neglect
The standard rustic protections.
No cold iron or holy charms
Were used to guard my newborn babe
Against the fair but fickle fay.
Our sweet babe suffered a fell change.
Glad smiles gave way to nasty scowls.
Dreadful screeches and hungry wails
Kept us awake both night and day.
The wee sprig refused mother’s milk
And instead ate the cupboard bare.
Luck seemed to desert our poor home.
Distraught o’er our change in fortune,
I cursed the unkind hand of fate.
Wiser than I, my wife could see
The truth in the lad’s ancient eyes;
A changeling lay in our babe’s cot.
To be rid of the nasty brute,
My fair wife went through the motions
Of brewing in empty eggshells.
The fey lad sat up in his cot
And remarked he had never seen
Such a strange sight in all his days.
With his true age revealed to all,
The changeling lost his hold on us.
Thrown by mine own two hands he went
Straight into the hearth’s roaring blaze.
Up the chimney the fairy flew,
Laughing and cursing all the way.
Soon after the wretched thing fled,
A knock sounded upon our door.
When I answered the soft rapping
I found our dear babe fast asleep
In a basket of willow twigs
As shadows slipped into the night.